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Indie Spotlight
by yo go re

Want to hit it off with a geeky indie-comics girl? Don't try to talk to her about Diana Prince, Sara Pezzini or any of the other "tennis ball boobs" set - let her know you're down with Francine and Katchoo.

Katina "Katchoo" Choovanski - "The Original Angry Blonde," Katchoo is a temperamental artist with a violent past. Katchoo's story plays itself out over a second plot element, a thriller style story concerning the shadowy Big Six organization. Its leader is a woman named Darcy Parker, who uses highly trained women (of whom Katchoo is one) to infiltrate - and to an extent control - the American political system. It uses a non-linear approach to storytelling, putting in sequence elements of the story often years apart, and going back in time frequently.

Wow, really? If you had asked me what Strangers in Paradise was about, I would have said some kind of romance story; I had no idea the plot was a cross between Pulp Fiction and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. That bio, incidentally, is pieced together from Wikipedia's SiP entry; not that the information is wrong, but wouldn't it be better to get something new written by creator Terry Moore than stuff put up years ago by random college students in Cambridge, England and Newport News, Virginia? Just saying.

During Indie Spotlight's long, long, long development, the one figure we never really got a clear look at was Katchoo - every time Shocker would bring prototypes to a show, the photos that came out afterwards failed to show her off properly. We even joked that she'd been sculpted blurry, but make no mistake, the final figure looks very crisp - and also very good. Katchoo's outfit is simple, just jeans and a black shirt, but the detail is good without going overboard. We get a few shallow wrinkles, enough to make it clear that she's wearing human clothes, not superhero spandex. The shirt is a bit weird, since the sleeves just come below her elbows, but that could be some fashion thing I'm unfamiliar with. Arm capris. He breasts are too large, but not unrealistically so. She's not Power Girl, you know. She could really use some rips in those jeans, too.

The thing that I most worried about for this figure was the face. Terry Moore draws beautiful women, but does it with a minimum of lines: that makes for a very difficult three-dimensional representation. Clayburn Moore (he of Moore Action Collectibles fame) has done a few Katchoo busts and statues, and even under his skilled hands, the likeness wasn't perfect. Shocker Toys' Katchoo doesn't look much like the comics, either - she seems more like a generic girl than any specific character - but the sculpt is still clean. She's very pretty, whoever she is.

Katchoo's articulation is a match for Kabuki's: balljointed head, swivel-hinged shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel wrists, balljointed torso, balljointed waist, swivel-hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees and balljointed ankles. She also gets something new: a balljointed ponytail. Yeah, go figure. Of all the joints, that was the only one that was even slightly stuck, which I take as a very good sign. The joints have gone through many revisions during this whole process, but the ones Shocker finally settled on both look good and function well.

The paint is nice, in that it's not overly ambitious: like we said, she's wearing jeans and a black shirt; not something that requires a lot of fine control to get it right. She does have some dark paint to make the legs look like denim, and her belt and buckle get their own apps. The sculpted details of her hair are soft, but if they'd tried to play them up using paint, it would have looked cartoony. Her eyebrows are way too thin, though: you look at the art, and they're thick and dark. She wears a watch on her left wrist, and has a feature that, like Kabuki's scars, would have been easy to overlook, but a mistake to omit: razor blade scars on her wrist. Technically the scars should be painted on both wrists, not just the left, but at least they got it half-right. The prototype had more paint apps on her shoes, but if something had to be cut, I'm glad they went before the wrist (no pun intended).

The figure is a bit light on accessories, with only a single replaceable hand. The one attached to the figure in the packaging has a black pistol, while the extra is just a plain fist. I'd have prefered open hands, but at this stage in the company's growth, let's face it: it's easier to sculpt good fists than good hands, you know? She's also got the same girly pink Is that Kabuki came with, floating around adorably with her big smile.

I've never read Strangers in Paradise, so Katchoo was definitely the figure I was least looking forward to in Indie Spotlight Series 1. Then, on top of that, we never really saw a good, clear shot of what the toy was going to look like. But I knew I wanted to send away for the free Mr. Gone figure (still do, but I have to find Maxx and the Scuds before that can happen), so I had to pick her up, sight-unseen. The figure isn't a perfect representation of Katchoo, but she's well made and looks very nice. If nothing else, I've got a new "civilian" for my Marvel Legends to protect. Ultimately, Katchoo turned out a lot better than anyone would had predicted, and that's to Shocker's credit.

-- 07/04/09

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